The 2019 New Years Resolutions post that nobody was waiting for

Resolutions don’t work anyway, especially if you tell people about them (Gollwitzer et al., 2009) (more or less, if you read between the lines and make some broad inferences, and with some provisos). But I’ve shared mine anyway for a couple of years in a row now so I might as well keep on going. First, the goals from last year:

Goal 0: No flights

Achieved! This was an easy one once I’d made the decision. I’m still getting occasional blow back on the subject from people who feel like I’m judging them by doing this (now I know how vegans feel!), and of course my “three holidays a year” mother, but I’m feeling pretty good about it.

The last time I flew was in 2014 when I flew to Australia for Karst Record VII – a week long international conference on cave and speleothem science. I tried to make the most of it by holidaying for a week or so afterwards and going on a spectacularly good pre-conference field trip (road trip really) from Sydney to Melbourne taking in the caves and karst of South East Australia. Among many spectacular sights (and new friendships which persist to this day) one which truly took my breath away was the view at our very first stop in the Blue Mountains.


Now those are the Three Sisters (and Jamison valley behind that, yet another horrid misspelling of my surname) – they’re just some stacks of sandstone. And behind that, are just some Eucalyptus trees in a valley. But the combination, and the blue haze across the mountains from which they gain their name (caused by Terpenes, produced by the Eucalyptus trees) is truly a beautiful sight to behold. I spent the time en route to the next stop fantasising about returning and walking some of the longer trails through the mountains or maybe coming to stay at Caves House in Jenolan. The views in the Blue Mountains this week are quite different:

Now fires up in the Blue Mountains aren’t new. Eucalyptus is pretty flammable (and incidentally so are those lovely Terpenes). Indeed, when we were there we could see abundant evidence of past burns. Many species of Eucalyptus actually have fire as a natural part of their lifecycles.

But these fires aren’t natural. They’re a record-breaking event that is far outside the norm in extent, temperature, and they’re far earlier in the fire season than is typical. This isn’t the first natural disaster which has been vastly amplified by climate change, and it may not be the most destructive in terms of death toll or economic harm. But it’s impossible not to look at photos of ominous blood red skies and pretend that this is business as usual.

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about that resolution.

Goal 1: Sleep outside at least once a month twelve nights

Clear fail on this one. Did a few nights camping out over the summer, especially on the Fife Coastal Path, but definitely didn’t make it to twelve.

Try again this year.

Goal 2: Practice more bushcraft skills

Debatable on this one. Though I did get to practice a good amount of camp cooking as well as teaching some of our friends about firestarting when we went away for Lauren’s birthday. My tarp shelter building skills also got a good workout on the coastal path.

Still want to do more in the next year I think.

Goal 3: Experiment a bit with media

Again, less than I’d planned. I produced some terrible video which will never see the light of day, and dialled in my new field recording set up. I have a podcast idea which I want to kick off this year, and am plowing ahead with it. Frustratingly, Al Humphreys has independently produced a similar but much better executed version of what I’d originally planned, but I think there’s still creative room out there for what I want to do.

Goal 4: Complete Lowland Leader Training

I did this and then some! I’m proud to say I passed my Lowland Leader Assessment in March (whilst labouring through a truly nasty bout of flu).

I’m now working towards my HML and ML awards, and aim to complete the training for both sometime late this year.

Goal 5: Blog more!

Well I did a little bit… I’m not sure a single week long trip report, one day out, and a political rant counts.

I aim to do better this year.

So without further ado, some additional resolutions:

Goal 6: Complete another 100km+ trail or two

Walking holidays and long distance hikes are a great way to rack up days and nights outside and I have a fair few of those on my bucket list. More on this in a subsequent post!

Goal 7: Find Employment from October onwards

My three year fixed term contract as a PDRA at Leeds ends in October. I have some (slim) hopes that it might be extended a bit, but if not I need to find myself another job. For the time being I’m committed to Leeds and Yorkshire (I bought a money pit of my very own!), so I’m on the hunt for opportunities to teach, be outside, and/or communicate interesting things to people from October.

Goal 8: Finish my teaching qualification

I’m about halfway through a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, or (as we who take the course have dubbed it) the “University of Leeds How to Teach Good” class. This gets me Fellowship in the Higher Education Academy and hopefully a slightly increased chance of a permanent position involving teaching (or at least a highly exploitative temporary Teaching Fellow gig). All going well I should complete this sometime around June.

Goal 9: Read 52 books

I set this goal on Goodreads every year. In one memorable year whilst single, procrastinating from my PhD, and devouring graphic novel series like cheap takeaway I managed 104 books of my 52 target. The last few years haven’t been nearly so successful in terms of numbers, with me rarely achieving this goal (though often coming close).

I don’t necessarily expect to do it this year either, but not every goal should be an easy tick – some of them should be a challenge.

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